Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Zitkala-Sa's Garden of Eden

Dr Catherine Kunce.

In her autobiography, Lakota Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) recounts the story how Christian missionaries lured the eight-year old girl away from her mother and her nation's reservation. The missionaries promised the girl her fill of bright red apples. What appears to be a narrative detail in fact signals commencement of an extended allusion to the Christian story of the fall of man. Zitkala-Sa casts herself as Eve, her mother as God, the missionaries as Satan, and her brother as Adam. The veiled allusion suggests the horrific consequences of forced acculturation and indicts white (Christian) culture for its planned genocide of Native Americans.


Dr Catherine Kunce  (United States)
Program for Writing and Rhetoric
University of Colorado, Boulder

Novelist Catherine Kunce teaches Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her soon-to-be published doctoral dissertation involves the edited letters of two nineteenth-century American women poets, one of whom was engaged to Edgar Allan Poe. Catherine has written, published, and taught on a variety of subjects including slave narratives, Cervantes, Nabokov, Australian film, and Willa Cather.

  • Zitkala-Sa
  • American Indians
  • genocide
  • Garden of Eden
  • missionaries
  • acculturation
Person as Subject
  • Zitkala-Sa

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)